News / Middle East

UNHCR: Africa Refugee Crisis Overshadowed by Syria

Lisa Schlein
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says the plight of millions of refugees and displaced people in Africa is being overshadowed by the crisis in Syria. To mark World Refugee day, the UNHCR is appealing to the international community to remember that Africans who are forcibly displaced by conflict also are in need of support.

Worldwide Refugee Figures for 2012

  • 7.6 million people were displaced
  • 23,000 persons per day were forced to leave their homes
  • 35.8 million people were protected by the UNHCR
  • More than half the world's refugees came from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan
  • Women and girls accounted for 48% of the refugee population
The U.N. refugee agency reports there are more than 45 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world.  This is the highest level of displacement since the Rwanda genocide and breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1994 caused millions of people to flee their homes.

UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, says conflict is the primary cause of displacement.

“Over the last year in particular, the big game changer has been Syria.  Syria went from being the major refugee hosting country of the Middle East to last year being one of the top five refugee and displacement producing countries of the world," said Edwards. "This year it is number one.  That is a very alarming turnaround and that makes a major change in the global displacement picture."

Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
x
Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
Source Countries for Refugees (Click to enlarge)
As a continent, the UNHCR says Africa is the second largest producer of displacement in the world.  Asia, largely because of Afghanistan, is the biggest.  Currently, Africa has 2.8 million refugees and some 10 million internally displaced people.

While these numbers are huge, Edwards says the drama of crises like that occurring in Syria tend to eclipse other ongoing crises.

“You have, just in the last year some very serious refugee crises - some new ones and some continuing ones in Africa.  You have the Mali situation.  You have a big crisis in Central African Republic," he said. "Now we are seeing recent displacement across borders from northeast Nigeria.  We continue to have Africa’s world war - the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  There are, having said all that, some glimmers of hope in the situation and some positives that have happened over the last year."

Last year, Edwards says a number of long-running refugee crises in Africa came to an end.  He says more than one-quarter of a million people were voluntarily repatriated to their homes of origin in Angola, Burundi, Ivory Coast, the DRC and Liberia. 

He says there are hopeful signs that Somali refugees might one day begin returning to the homes they fled years ago.  But that, he adds, will only happen if the country continues down the path of peace and stability.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Bakhtiar Basher Husein from: Iraq
June 20, 2013 12:54 PM
Terrific data and shocking in the same time. International Refugees concern is mostly an outcome of differentiation of national interests of powerful countries in the international arena.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid